A lot of reunion tours tend to suck. It's a sad fact, but a fact none the less. Age can be unkind to rock stars, and more often than not, reunions come across as nothing more than a cash in on faded glory. Luckily, in the case of Iggy And The Stooges, there can be exceptions to that rule. This DVD proves that they're one of them.
Obviously, with Dave Alexander no longer with us, he's not going to be in attendance here so we've got Mike Watt of The Minutemen filling in admirably on bass guitar. Aside from that one member change, we're treated to the original line up of Iggy Pop, Ron and Scott Asheton, and Steve Mackay. Musically, they don't sound a whole lot different here than they do on the albums that they're playing tracks off of in this roughly hour-long set. Sure, they look a little older but that's to be expected. The sound is what matters and the pull it off nicely here.
While it's great to have the closest approximate possible to the original line up in place, the main focus was and still is on Iggy. For a man approaching senior citizen status, he's ripped like a body builder and has the energy of a teenager. Watching him strut like a peacock for the crowd, who totally eat it up and ask for more, is a blast and you can tell he's loving every minute of it. The only drawback to this show, and I'd assume the reunion in general, is that a lot of the anger is missing. Iggy mugs for the crowd and rails around on stage like a maniac, but in between songs talks nicely to the crowd and it feels just a little bit off. Obviously the man is in a different place since these songs were written decades ago and the world has become a very different place since then, but part of the overall 'feel' that The Stooges conjure up with their music is definitely missing.
Overall though, this is a great, high energy show with solid performances from all involved. I only wish I could have seen them live, though this DVD is a nice substitute.
The set list for this performance is comprised of the following track listing:
Down On The Street
I Wanna Be Your Dog
Real Cool Time
I Wanna Be Your Dog (reprise)
My only complaint with the song selection is more of a personal one than anything else – there are no songs from Raw Power in the set. Apparently it was because the Asheton brothers didn't want to play any of it due to James Williamson having handled all the guitar duties on that recording. While there are plenty of great songs here, and the Funhouse material sounds great live, I'd have personally liked to have seen and heard a few tracks from Raw Power thrown in as well, as it's my favorite Stooges album. Oh well, maybe next time.
The 1.33.1 picture was captured using multiple cameras but the way that the image was edited leaves a little to be desired. At times, the camera is too far back, and when it focuses on anyone but Iggy, it seems like its doing so because it has to, not because the other band members are doing anything specifically cool at any given time. The video is taken from the live switching that was done during the concert to play on the display screens at the side of the stage, so it's not all that professional looking in the way that its edited or shot. Even with those deficiencies, the concert is still very watchable and the video quality isn't bad at all. The stage lighting was really basic and almost non-existent during some songs but that's not really the fault of the transfer, though it does result in some dark spots.
You've got your choice of three audio tracks on this release – a Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo track, a Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound track, and a DTS 5.1 Surround Sound track. While the two Dolby Digital tracks sound good, they lack the bass that the DTS mix brings to the sound stage, making that track the one to go for if you've got the right hardware to make that happen. There are some shrill moments in the high end of the mix in a couple of spots but hey, it's The Stooges, they play fast and loud and sloppy and all three of these mixes do a pretty good job of replicating that. Considering how poor most of the live recordings that have surfaced over the last thirty odd years have sounded, this DVD is almost revelatory in its clarity without losing any of the punch that the band needs to have to retain their trademark sound.
The biggest and best of the supplements comes in the form of a complete bonus concert recorded using a handheld video camera positioned at the side of the stage during an in store performance that three of the band members did in New York City last year (Mike Watt does not join in on this one). It's a more retrained gig than what we see happen on the main feature, mainly because of space constraints and the fact that the drummer doesn't have a drum kit and instead plays on a bucket. Regardless of that, there's still a lot of rock and roll here, and less than ideal video quality aside, it's a pretty keen extra.
There's also a feature called Sing Along With Iggy that basically subtitles the lyrics for a few songs from the main performance. Not a particularly useful feature but I suppose if you sing along to your DVDs a lot and don't already know the lyrics to the songs, then it might be interesting. There's also an interesting supplement called Mike Watt's Tour Diary in which the bass player reads from the journal that he was keeping during the time the show was recorded. Hearing his perspective on things is interesting and there are some very 'rock n roll' stories in here. The Creem Archive is a bunch of promotional posters, cover art, and day bill reproductions going all the way back to the genesis of the band, presented in slideshow format and set to some of the band's music. Some very cool artwork and photos are contained herein. Finally, there's some liner notes from Mike Watt included in the keepcase that lay a little background info on you as to the where's and why's of the concert.
While I'm sure it's nowhere near as cool as having been there for it live, Iggy And The Stooges – Live In Detroit is a pretty solid release that, despite some issues with the video, stands up very well against a lot of the live concert DVDs that have come out lately. Great audio and very cool extra features make this one an easy 'Highly Recommended' for Stooges fans.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.